Thursday, January 1, 2015

A thing or two about Coot

In the Miri area (Bario in the right season is no-contest the best site for moorhen), moorhens are a common occurrence in Kuala Baram Wetlands and Senadin temporary holding ponds. Once in a while you'll  notice a dark colored bird with a white-headplate instead of the usual red you see on the moorhen. Before you can finish the sentence, "What the heck was that ..", the quarry dissappears into the thicket by the water's edge.

Common Coot or Eurasian Coot as the name suggests are common elsewhere but not in our general Miri area or Borneo for that matter. Sighting a coot is then understandably a big thing. We've had unconfirmed reports of coots in Kuala Baram area on several occasions. To err on the safe side, it's always considered a best practice to cite the more common or probable species (in this case Common Moorhen) unless it can be accompanied by a detailed unbiased description and preferably with a clear picture which makes id more or less uncontestable.

To practice on potential sighting of a probable Eurasian Coot in the area, I've compiled several close up pictures of coot in it's breeding zone where the coot is actually common and sometimes can be considered "friendly". In Europe and perhaps Australia, coots can be seen foraging with the commoner ducks at cities' recreational ponds or parks scrambling for bread crumps.

Several distinguishing features that are noticeable immediately:
- white headplate
-white beak
-grey black feathers without white banding anywhere

and the most interesting feature to me :
-the partially webbed feet.

The last feature may be rather difficult to ascertain in the field unless you are somewhere in Europe with a handful of breadcrumbs in your hand which is about the only way to get a coot to come close to you.

The general distribution range of coot (after de la Hoyo et al) can be seen in the last image below.

Images and words by Nazeri Abghani, Jan 2015.

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